Aristocracy, Antiquity, and History: An Essay on Classicism in Political Thought

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Transaction Publishers, Jan 1, 1997 - History - 348 pages
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This brilliant critique of the literature on modernity challenges conventional approaches in two fundamental ways: First, the lineage of the modern turns out to be less ancient and glorious than is usually suggested. Modernity is an upstart rather than a scion of an old and celebrated line. The roots of modernity are held to be less secure than previously thought. This leads the author to suggest that the demise of the old is a matter of rhetoric rather than reality. The old was driven underground rather than extinguished. The inherited traditions are deeply embedded in our souls. We turn to modernity as a half-baked worldview to overcome our estrangement from the past.

Kinneging examines this sweeping view in the concrete circumstances of the imagined fall of the aristocracy and rise of the enterprising bourgeoisie. But aristocracy, this study reveals a strong and thriving noblesse, not only in places like Russia and Prussia, but also in advanced capitalist states like France and England. Aristocracy, Antiquity, and History shows conclusively that the actual demise of this exploration into the sources of Western thought takes seriously the strength of an aristocratic vision that lives on in a variety of conservative and liberal doctrines.

In Aristocracy, Antiquity and History the readers is reacquainted with the democratic potential as in the work of Montesquieu, and the way in which classicism, romanticism, and modernism, far from a sequential set of events, are entwined in the ethic of honor and in the moral order of modern life. In trying to understand modernity, advanced societies cannot help but draw attention to the old by way of contrast. The presence of antiquity, however suppressed or shrugged off, does not disappear, but stays with us in the very act of rebellion against the ancients. This fine work in the history of ideas will serve to redefine and redirect researches in social and political theory for years to come.

 

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Contents

POLITICS HISTORY AND TELEOLOGY
3
ANATOMY OF THE ARISTOCRACY
37
THE RISE OF CLASSICISM
69
THE MEANING OF ANTIQUITY
91
ROMAN TRAD1T1ONS
108
THE MAN OF HONOR
139
THE SOCIETY OF UNEQUALS
168
THE POLITICS OF NOB1L1TAS
205
THE THESE N0B1L1A1RE
235
MONTESQU1EUS LINEAGE
279
CLASSICISM ROMANTICISM AND MODERNITY
303
PRIMARY SOURCES
325
SECONDARY SOURCES
331
INDEX
345
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